Africa-Press – Malawi. The Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has officially launched the construction of a US$500 000 (over K500 million) FIFA funded Nsanje Stadium at Nsanje Community Ground on Wednesday.
FAM secured funding of USD500,000 from FIFA Foundation for the rehabilitation of the Nsanje Community Stadium as a response to the effects of Cyclone Idai in 2019.
Among the main features of the project are the construction of a new modern football pitch from scratch and installation of solar power with an inbuilt irrigation system. In addition, the pitch will be secured with a wire perimeter fence as well as construction of a VIP box and dressing rooms for the football teams.
Speaking to the media after the launch, FAM President Walter Nyamilandu described the development as a dream come true.
“It is indeed a dream come true not as a President of FAM, but as somebody who played football. This is my home, and it is always good to contribute to the community that played a great part in your life. It’s been my dream to fulfill this by improving the infrastructure in the rural areas in all the districts because it is a key. We are happy that we had a groundbreaking ceremony. With all the discussions, negotiations have worked very smoothly, and we can’t just wait to have the final product in place,” he said.
He added: ” This will play a huge role. We want to bridge the gap between the elite teams and amateur teams and we have seen other districts doing very well, like Chitipa, Karonga and Dedza and this is a sign that if we develop the communities and the districts by having such infrastructures, performance will improve and Nsanje will benefit a lot especially the likes of Nsanje United which is already number two in the league will have a very big chance to go into the Super League and perform wonders. The future of Malawi football is not in town, the future of our football is in the rural areas and we need to bridge that gap by empowering the communities because that’s where the talent and population is. I am happy that my vision and inspiration are being fulfilled,” he added.
The FAM boss also pleaded with the Malawi Government to consider removing some duties on construction materials in order to ease the burden that the association may incur during the process of building such a facility for Nsanje District.
“It wasn’t easy to come up with the simple structure like the one we have now. This is magnificent because the cost estimates were huge because inflation hasn’t spared anyone in the industry, cost of cement has gone up and the amount that we have isn’t sufficient for the costs estimates for this project because it was way above that and we had to sit down with the contractor to negotiate and cut some of the costs.
“We are hopeful that a VAT waiver will be passed for the betterment of the community at large,” he concluded.
In his remarks, Minister of Youth and Sports, Uchizi Mkandawire hailed the development saying government alone can not manage to improve the sports infrastructure, hence the need for other development partners to provide help when necessary.
“I am very excited to witness the ground-breaking ceremony for the commencement of the construction of this stadium because it has been in the pipeline for a long time and there was so many speculations as regards to the construction of this facility by our colleagues from FAM. This is a new chapter where all the rumors have been put to bed as we have now finally launched the project.
“It is a very important facility because as a nation, sports infrastructure is a huge problem whereby so may areas are lacking and as government, we have tried to come in with lots of projects across the country but with limited resources, we are unable to fulfill this, but today, with the assistance from FIFA, FAM has benefitted to construct this stadium and we are very thankful and grateful them for this kind of support,” he said.
He also retaliated government commitment to rehabilitating sports infrastructure to develop sports in the country.
“We are very committed to improve sports by investing so much in infrastructure of our facilities, recently being the regional 5 games where we have managed to do rehabilitation of various stadiums and constructing the Griffin Saenda Sports Complex, aquatic sports infrastructure at Kamuzu Institute of Sports as part of our commitment to improve the sports infrastructure in the country,” he added.
On FAM’s plea to have a waiver on construction material, Mkandawire agreed that half a billion kwacha may be inadequate hence the need for a waiver on Value Added Tax for the project.
Deputy Minister of Local Government, Unity and Culture Owen Chomanika described the development as important in as far as urbanization process in concerned.
“With the coming in of this facilty, you will observe changes to the place and at the same time, the district itself will turn to be urbanized because it will be able to host games that could not have been hosted here. So it is a great thing that even as a ministry we are very much appreciating and that’s why you have observed that the district council has been very receptive and accommodative to make sure that this project is taken very seriously,” he explained.
He urged the council to also contribute to the project by adding some facilities.
“We feel, as government, wherever we have something little, it’s important to pump in something to take charge of ownership because it’s owned by the people and by the council. If we have something that is available, it’s important for us to contribute because for it to be fully completed, there is a need for more than MK4 billion as FAM is pumping in less than a billion kwacha which they have done very well and if we get something, it will be important as this will help us to complete the project to maximize resources and fulfil our objectives as a ministry,” he concluded.
The project will be completed before January next year and is in response to the destruction caused by tropical cyclone Idai in 2019, with Malawi being one of the countries severely affected by the disaster that claimed lives of people and destroyed infrastructures.